Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

The most common question I’m asked about my writing is: Where do you get your ideas? My most common answer is: I don’t know. Ideas are always lurking, waiting to be unearthed, fleshed out, discarded or explored deeper. There’s usually a trigger, a “what if” and then, boom, the idea starts to flow. Sometimes slowly, but sometimes the story unfolds in my mind like quicksand.

I know, I know. That’s really not a good enough answer. So, I’m going to make myself dig deeper here and tell you where the original ideas came from for each of my Charity House novels. Why those books, specifically? Because my next release, THE OUTLAW’S REDEMPTION, marks the sixth book in the series. The seventh book, FINALLY A BRIDE, will hit the shelves in November of this year. It’s a good time to take a moment and look back over the series to see how I got here. There isn’t room to go into too much detail, so bear with me as I try to give you a quick overview.

CHARITY HOUSE REDEMPTION: Although published as Book Five in the series, this story actually came first, or as I like to say: Where it all began. In this particular case, I can remember the precise moment when the idea for Charity House came to me.

I was at a writer’s conference back in 1999, still unpublished and waiting for my big break. I didn’t know what I was going to write next, but I knew I wanted it to be special. For our luncheon entertainment the conference committee brought in a group called The Shady Ladies who reenacted life in the Old West. When the ladies came around to the concept of birth control for prostitutes, or rather lack thereof, I sat up a little taller. I knew I had my idea. You see, Charity House is what was called a baby farm in the Old West, dedicated to the care and feeding of the unwanted children of prostitutes. The heroine of CHARITY HOUSE REDEMPTION is the daughter of a prostitute who wanted to get out of the brothel where her mother worked. She brought the other children with her and, thus, Charity House was born.

THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE is officially Book One in the series. The hero is a U.S. Marshal and brother-in-law to the hero in CHARITY HOUSE REDEMPTION. The heroine was a former orphan at Charity House and is now the new schoolteacher. From the moment they met, they started circling one another. But the heroine had been assaulted by one of her mother’s clients and wary of men. The hero, a widower, was too bent on avenging his wife’s death to be interested in love again. Thanks to a wounded five-year-old little girl who both loved dearly, they managed to get past their differences and form a family together.

HANNAH’S BEAU is Book Two in the series. This story came about because I wasn’t quite through with Charity House, even though I’d originally planned to end the series after THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE. The hero of this book is a rebel preacher with a heart for the lost. He showed up in only one scene prior to this book. Since then, he’s dedicated his life to ministering to prostitutes, gamblers and other reprobates in the Old West. The heroine is a famous stage actress shunned by the good-Christian-folk because of her profession. Since the hero is from a family of famous stage actors he understands the heroine on a level most people don’t. As a result of their happily-ever-after, Charity House now has a full-time pastor and loosely connected church.

LOVING BELLA is Book Three in the series. The hero in this book is the only doctor in town who will treat the children at Charity House and their mothers in the brothel. He was a secondary character in all of the previous books and I really felt he needed his own happily-ever-after. It really wasn’t any more complicated than that. His heroine is a famous opera singer and the sister of the hero from HANNAH’S BEAU. Her arrival in town comes at a perfect time for the hero, yet produces lots of complications for him as well.

THE LAWMAN CLAIMS HIS BRIDE is Book Four and explores another hero and heroine’s love story, both of whom showed up in all the previous books. Logan Mitchell started out as the deputy U.S. marshal for the hero in THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE. When he first met his heroine she was an orphan at Charity House. The two have been kept apart by age, other people and life circumstances for five years. It’s their time for love at last.

THE OUTLAW’S REDEMPTION is Book Six in the series and the newest of the stories. It focuses on Logan’s brother, Hunter. I’ve always wanted to explore why some of us choose to embrace the good inside us, while others can’t seem to avoid the bad. Thanks to a restlessness he could never shake, Hunter hasn’t lived a good or a very righteous life. He left home young, willingly took the wrong path as soon as he was gone, and made bad decision upon bad decision. Can a man like that be redeemed? I wanted to find out, and so THE OUTLAW’S REDEMPTION was born.

And…there’s lots more to all the stories, but no room to continue. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for copy of THE OUTLAW’S REDEMPTION. I’m giving away three copies of this book. As a bonus, I’m going to give away a full set of all six books to one grand prize winner.

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Award-winning, multi-published author Renee Ryan sold her first book by winning the 2001 inaugural Dorchester/Romantic Times New Historical Voice Contest. She sold her second book to Harlequin Love Inspired Historical and has since sold nine more manuscripts to Love Inspired and Love Inspired Historical.

26 thoughts on “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?”

  1. My mind is constantly full of ideas and some times I think some of them would make a good book. But, then I always have that fear of failure so I just the thoughts in my head instead of sharing them.
    Janine

  2. Hi Janine, I completely understand the fear of failure. Oh, boy, do I ever!!! It’s the biggest hinderance for most of us. And never really goes away. I say why not try? Or as my son’s soccer coach used to say, “You can only make the goal if you shoot the ball.” Go, Janine!!!

  3. Looking forward to the latest! I have all your other books so no need to put me in for the grand drawing. Someone else needs to be blessed with all that treasure!

    Peace, Julie

  4. Renee, So glad you have a new book coming out. In the past year I have discovered I really enjoy Westerns, it does not matter if it is historical or modern, Westerns are a lot fo fun. Your books are fun to read.

  5. What an awesome springboard for a series, Renee. Your books sound wonderful, and such gorgeous covers.

    Like you, I’m always getting asked that question, and I never know what to say. I just get those ideas. I think the key is in being aware of what’s going around you and asking “what if?”
    Thanks for a great blog today.

  6. All of these books sound Great! Think I will be giving this series a try. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  7. Such lovely covers, Renee. And can I say I love your handsome cowboy and his horse on your most recent release? That is one of the best CBA male-only covers I’ve seen. I love the heroines in their long dresses, but I must admit there’s something about a hunky cowboy on his own that draws me in. Congrats on a great series!

  8. Hi Renee. Your series sounds wonderful. I love the beautiful covers. Thank you for the giveaway.

  9. Hi, Renee. The covers of your books are gorgeous, they make me want to step into them! I think it’s great that your books are “Love Inspired Historical”. They sound so wonderful and refreshing!
    I have been writing poetry since I was 16 years old. I get my ideas for my poems from things that happen in my life, or from the people who are most special to me.
    I would love to win the giveaway!

  10. I have been a fan of your writing for awhile now.
    Enjoyed reading the comments. That would be my downfall as a writer-I would run out of ideas for books quickly.

  11. All of your books look great! I love to read books set in the Old West. Thanks for sharing about each story.

  12. Wow, you have a lot ideas! Glad to see that each has become a book. I’m sure you have more ideas!

  13. It’s great to see how you get your ideas. Thanks for sharing that with us.
    I also agree that your covers look beautiful. I’m looking forward to reading your books, because they sound great.

  14. I’ve read the Marshall Takes a Bride and several other books written by Renee Ryan. I enjoy your stories and make a point to check out new books written by you. I look forward to reading about Logan’s brother, Hunter. Thanks for the opportunity to win a book!

  15. Thanks for all the great responses. I agree, the latest cover is FABULOUS. The Harlequin art department took my suggestions and ran with them. The model on the cover looks just like my hero!!! He actually rides a white horse, but I’m good with that model, too. I mean, ALL horses are beautiful. 😉

  16. I have enjoyed books 1-5… such wonderful characters to meet. Thanks for the chance to win the newest book THE OUTLAW’S REDEMPTION…

  17. What an interesting spark to your series. Hope The Shady Ladies know what they inspired.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  18. I cannot wait to read these books! I love your books and absolutely love the historical romances :)))

  19. I too love the covers of your books! I look forward to reading your new book and enjoyed your post on how you developed your ideas into books.

  20. I love hearing about what inspired an idea! As an artist, it can be the smallest thing, but there is usually some emotion involved that motivates me to pursue the idea, challenge it, and shape it. Thanks for sharing your books!

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